Arrivals in England to enjoy short quarantine with negative

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Travelers arriving in England from abroad will be able to reduce their quarantine by more than half if they test negative after five days, a senior British official announced Tuesday.

Under the new measure, passengers who arrive from a destination not on the British government's travel corridors list will still need to enter self-isolation. But they can reduce the 14-day period by paying for a test from a private firm after five days, according to British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Noting that the new measures will take effect from Dec. 15, he said the scheme would "bolster international travel while keeping the public safe", adding that people could end quarantine if the test comes back negative, usually 24 to 48 hours after the test.

"Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business. By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic," Shapps said.

Authorities said they want the scheme to boost travel without putting additional pressure on Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

The travel industry welcomed the policy but described it as "long overdue", the BBC reported Tuesday.

The tests from private firms will cost between 65 pounds (about 86.66 U.S. dollars) and 120 pounds (about 160 U.S. dollars), said the BBC.

The latest measure came as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday a "tougher" tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England's current lockdown when it ends on Dec. 2.

Johnson said he will announce which areas will fall into which tier later this week, probably on Thursday.

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, in a bid to quell the resurgence of coronavirus.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.